sealPurdue News

March 5, 2003

Computer equipment seized in child pornography investigation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University police have seized a variety of computers and related equipment owned by 17 students in conjunction with a child pornography investigation.

Based on information received by police, a warrant was obtained to search the on-campus rooms of 12 students on Tuesday (3/4). The warrant included a variety of equipment such as desktop and laptop computers, electronic data storage devices and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Also on Tuesday, five additional students voluntarily turned over computer equipment to police, said Ronald Fosnaugh, Purdue police captain of special services.

Fosnaugh said that based on preliminary information there appears to be no connection among the 17 students currently under investigation. No arrests have been made, but officials are in the process of interviewing the students and examining the content of the items seized to determine the extent of the alleged violations and whether any child pornography had been more widely distributed.

In addition to any criminal charges, the students also could face university sanctions, said L. Tony Hawkins, dean of students.

"Even though we're talking about student-owned devices, that equipment still makes use of the university's network infrastructure for operations such as e-mail usage and Internet access," Hawkins said. "Any illegal or inappropriate use of those resources is subject to disciplinary action under the university's code of conduct."

Any student accused of violating the code of conduct would be notified in writing of the alleged violations. The student would then have a hearing with the Office of the Dean of Students to examine the evidence and provide an opportunity for the student to respond to the allegations. At the conclusion of the hearing, university officials would determine if a violation occurred and, if so, what is the appropriate penalty.

Any suspected violations of the law found during the police investigation would be turned over to the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office for further action. Under Indiana law, possession of child pornography is a Class D felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Writer: Brian Zink, (765) 494-2080,

Sources: L. Tony Hawkins, (765) 494-1239,

Ronald Fosnaugh, (765) 494-8221,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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